neither materialistic nor idealistic

September 5, 2020

You only see the world aright if you see it as being neither materialistic nor idealistic, but are capable of following up the ideal aspect of what is presented in a material way and following up the material aspect of what is presented as idea.

The spiritual quality of a world conception is not being able to say “Over there is base materialism, which is for the ‘dregs’ of humanity, and over here is idealism, which is for the elect” — and the speaker usually includes himself among these — but the essential quality of a really spiritual world conception lies in its capacity to take what it has grasped in the spirit and bring it down into material existence so that material existence can be understood and not despised.

That is the fallacy of many religious denominations, that they despise material existence instead of understanding it and looking for the spirit within it.

~ Rudolf Steiner, Social Understanding Through Spiritual Scientific Knowledge, 1919

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2 Responses to “neither materialistic nor idealistic”

  1. FeralMonk Says:

    Alas, Steiner’s argument contradicts itself and begs its own question. Spirit does not inhere in matter, it doesn’t ooze across some divide to be grasped and materialized by a receiver.

    Steiner’s thesis presupposes the ultimacy of objectivity and that reality is little more than an ensemble of separate and separable thingybobs that our minds can nevertheless appreciate by materializing.

    Let’s not presuppose any inherent separations, but rather, the inherent hegemony of connectivity … perhaps in the manner of waves upon seas that rise and fall by wind.

    Only then, might we fully appareciate that it is not so much Calfin who smiles as one who has the necessary qualities to smile, as it is the connectivity itself that smiles whenever it is allowed to be itself as it is… or in the wisdom of the song “When your smiling, the whole world smiles with you.”

    This is not about materializing Calvin’s spirit, but about the evidence of thanksgiving in the presence of the giver, the receiver, and the gift of a care-filled and loving communion.


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